Etihad Airways will increase its services from Abu Dhabi to Saudi Arabia in November, providing additional flights to Jeddah for Muslims making the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

In addition to its regular daily Jeddah service, Etihad will offer 11 extra flights to the city between November 2 and November 20, offering a capacity increase of 1600 seats during the period.

The additional services will be operated by Airbus A320 and A330 aircraft.

Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer, said: “The Hajj pilgrimage is a very important experience for Muslims around the world and Etihad is proud to help our customers make this significant journey. The demand for the Hajj flights has always been very strong and we are expecting the services this year to be equally popular.

“In addition to carrying pilgrims from the UAE, we anticipate many Muslims will fly from around the world to Jeddah, via our home-base in Abu Dhabi.”

More than two million pilgrims make the journey every year to Saudi Arabia, which is the custodian of the two Holy Mosques in Makkah and Madinah.

Makkah is located 73 kilometres inland from Jeddah, with Muslims regarding the al-Masjid al-Haram (The Sacred Mosque) as the holiest place on earth.

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, launched daily services to Jeddah in May 2006. The airline also offers a non-stop, eight-flights-per-week service to the Saudi capital Riyadh, and 13 flights-per-week to Dammam.